TEFF AT HOME: Serkaddis Alemu of Petit Valentien is now selling kits to make the teff-based Ethiopian staple food injera at home. | Credit: Courtesy Serkaddis Alemu

“Don’t call it bread; don’t call it crȇpes: Injera is injera,” says Serkaddis Alemu of the ancient Ethiopian staple. For more than a decade, Alemu has served her spicy, savory Ethiopian lunch to Santa Barbara every weekend at Petit Valentien in La Arcada Court. But now she’s offering a way to take that culture home in the form of make-your-own injera, the spongy, teff-based flatbread of sorts that’s at the core of her people’s cuisine. 

The $49 injera kit comes with an instructional guide, video links, one pound of ivory teff, one pound of brown teff, and Alemu’s own mother dough — an essential component of the fermentation process. “With fermentation, you really can’t cut corners,” she warned, because injera is finicky and the preparer requires discipline in order to navigate the microbial stubbornness of this complex dish. While slowing down may be the biggest challenge for some people — fermentation taking between one and six days depending on desired taste — Alemu urged that patience in the food-making process is beneficial in this modern, fast-moving world. 

“Here is my cup of mother dough,” offered Alemu, who’s hoping to pass the torch of fermentation skills on to the young and the curious in the hopes of cultivating gut-biome awareness in Santa Barbara. It’s a gift both culinary and cultural. 

See petitvalentien.com/injera


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